words - Luke Stenner
photo - Harry Dennis
Hot and dry westerly winds swept in across the range this morning as the team arrived to stage 3 in the township of Tyalgum.....a familiar but typically difficult hunting ground for the Cobra's.
The boys were calm and positive after a solid day out yesterday, and DS Prete set out providing the strategy for the day's race. Ensuring all bases were covered, a potential podium was on the cards, and hopefully a stronger result in the teams classification.
From the drop of the flag at around 1km into the race it was ON! With a flurry of attacks.......Liam Nolan was first to pounce and went with an early break of around 8 riders, which got out to around 30sec at one point. Unfortunately Liam had a mechanical which ended his race prematurely.
The race came back together soon after where more attacks were being launched off the front.....Dave Edwards was in most of these from what we could see from the car....but at this stage, the peloton wears not letting anything get too far ahead.
Nearing the end of the 1st lap with the weather already starting to take its toll, and the climbs beginning, the elastic finally broke and a single rider from Olivers Racing (the eventual winner by 6min!) broke free, solo with approx 19 riders chasing and in pursuit. From this group of 19 riders, Olly broke clear with Kane Richards (McDonald's) and they then spent the next 60kms or so chopping off into the searing heat and brutal cross and head winds.
With the Olivers racing rider gradually taking more time from Ollie and Kane, and from the chasing bunches,.....a smaller group of 5 riders bridged across to Ollie with approx 25km to go. Olly managed to grit his teeth, drink one more coke, and take one more gel and hang on with this group until the last KOM.....just losing contact at the top coming in a very respectable 6th, moving himself into 5th on overall GC. Jono Butler had another consistent day finishing in the first chasing bunch in 14th and holds his GC position in 15th. Mitch, Josh and Tim all rode strong in the peloton, finishing in various bunches on the road. The Team now sit in 4th on GC....a huge result!
An equally big day and kudos to all the support today.....with the weather so brutal....and with various mechanicals and breaks everyone was stretched and had to push hard for a excellent team result.
Now back at our digs for a icy cold refreshing ale, showers and some rest before another hot and windy day in the hills around Tyalgum tomorrow.
Big thanks to Luke for generating some content after today's stage. All the guys were pretty shattered and getting creative can be trying. Cheers mate.